Deep Dive Blog

Basics of Biblical Hebrew and Greek Can Help Your Christian Writing

As a Christian writer, it’s important to be immersed in scripture and interpret biblical passages well. You will often refer your readers to Bible truths, so you want to get hold of those truths for yourself before you write.

While you will discover many spiritual practices that can help (prayer, worship, Bible Study, lectio divina, reliable commentaries, and more), another helpful practice is being able to look up key words in the original language (Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament). Continue reading “Basics of Biblical Hebrew and Greek Can Help Your Christian Writing”

Ideologies? Or Just Friends?

I grew up in the Cold War. I know it looks like ancient politics now. But it was real for us.

We knew the world could be destroyed by nuclear weapons. That undercurrent ran beneath daily life. Two countries with tons of nukes hated each other. I lived in one of them. It’s not that we thought about it every day. But some months or years the tension would cycle up. By the time I was in high school, the prospect of nuclear war seemed very real. Even scarier was the thought of a land invasion.

I grew up in an international city. My 6th grade classroom was like the United Nations. From childhood, I was interested in other cultures. I felt called to work in diplomatic relations, so when I got into college, that’s what I pursued. In the early 80s it was a given that I would learn Russian language and study Soviet politics.

I attended a lot of workshops and conferences with guest visitors from the Soviet Union. Nobody knew who they could trust. Everyone was sizing each other up. I thought I knew how to be diplomatic and ask the right questions. I remember getting very uncomfortable when my fellow American students would go into inflammatory mode when interviewing a Soviet visitor.

I traveled to the USSR as a college student. I thought I would get to know the culture better, see behind the Iron Curtain so to speak. But we were kept under such controlled circumstances that it was hard to meet anyone except people approved by the Party. The few others we met were the ones who interacted with foreigners under the radar, and it was all about money. Before long we were buying items for them in hard currency stores where they weren’t allowed to buy things, using money they made on the black market. None of it seemed real. Everything I learned was one form of disinformation or another.

It wasn’t till the Cold War had ended that I had the privilege to go back to Russia and teach at a university. I lived with a family and shared every part of life with them. Spent time enjoying life with my neighbors. Played with neighborhood kids.

During those years, I got to know my university students and loved their personalities, laughed with them, encouraged them, dreamed their dreams. Ended up in the hospital when I got bit by a rabid dog, and became internationally vocal about healthcare needs in the new Russian Republic. Helped college students start and lead a series of community round table conversations on issues at the intersection of their new constitutional rights and the struggles of daily life. And traveled to places that had only just opened to Americans.

I lived on a local wage and found daily life challenging. I had to take a second job teaching English. I was grateful my local family fed me. I was not in the same situation as my Russian friends, because I had health insurance, a US passport, and an open one-way ticket to New York. But when it came to daily life, it was hard and I was often alone.

That made me all the more grateful for the friendships that came into my life. Those were precious people I’ll never forget. I felt like I had known them forever. They meant the world to me. In those years, they became my friends, family, neighbors. They were my life.

I rejoiced when they rejoiced, I cried when they cried. Missed my train one night so I could stay with a distraught family whose daughter had disappeared. (She eventually came home and was okay, but had gotten some bad news that was difficult to handle.) Spent hours on the phone trying to find a medical organization that could give medicine to a friend who was going blind. (I was not successful.)

I remember one night in Russia, sitting in someone’s living room with a group of my closest friends. I looked from person to person, how well I knew them, and how much each person meant to me, just for who they were. I didn’t see nationality. Just saw my friends.

And I realized, dear God, at any time in my growing up years, my country might have launched a weapon that would have killed them, the very people sitting in this room, my friends who had become so important to me.

It wasn’t an international relations textbook anymore. It wasn’t the evening news. Nor was it a conference with visiting dignitaries and heated arguments.

It was as simple as the room we were sitting in. These were my friends. Through my tears I thanked God no one had launched a nuke. Not because I was afraid to die. Not because I didn’t respect security measures and the difficult decisions government leaders have to make. But more because I couldn’t imagine a world that wouldn’t have my friends in it.

I have no desire to make a political observation in all of this. That wasn’t what came to my mind at that time. It was more this: Friends are precious. And real. Take care of them. Appreciate and value them.

Ideologies are shortcuts that help us avoid the messy, valuable work of getting to know real people. Don’t miss that.

Be open to realize that people who are different from you could just as easily become a close friend. Before you judge someone or dismiss them, consider what your world might be like if that person were a good friend.

Most people don’t want to blow up the world. They’re trying to get through the day just like you are. They love the people they’re close to just like you do.

Can you see that real person through all the rhetoric, through all the hype?

Can you see the world through the eyes of someone you don’t know, someone who could just as easily be your friend?

Write a Quick Reflection on Song of Solomon 2:10-13

I love reading Song of Solomon 2:10-13 any time of year but especially in the springtime. The imagery is so vivid that it literally paints a scene of God’s love and His redemption plan for us.

As a writer, you may enjoy meditating on this passage and then writing a devotional, prayer, or reflections. This Bible reading might even inspire you to write a letter of encouragement to someone who has had a long winter – not necessarily a physical winter, but a difficult season of life.

Photo by Karen Castleberry

You may want to start out with lectio divina, which is Christian meditation on scripture. Here is an article where you can learn more about this practice: Lectio Divina for Christian Writers.

After spending some time in prayerful meditation over Song of Solomon 2:10-13, you may want to jot down words, images, emotions, fragments that come to mind. This beautiful Old Testament passage touches on so many aspects of imagery and emotions that it’s a good passage for learning this process.

Then look over what you’ve jotted down. Which word or image stands out most for you? If more than one idea comes to mind, which one tugs at you most? (Stay prayerful through all of this.)

Photo by Karen Castleberry

Who might want to hear about this passage? Why? What is their situation? What effect might Song of Solomon 2:10-13 have on them?

What are 5 things this Bible passage says to the person in that situation? Create a numbered bullet list. You don’t have to limit your first list to 5, but try to then select 5 to work with.

Write a sentence or two for each of the 5, explaining how/why the passage says that.

Look at that! You have the body of a written reflection inspired by Song of Solomon 2:10-13.

Add a quick intro and conclusion (keep it short and simple) and you’re ready to share this reflection on your blog.

Or just give it to someone – maybe written on beautiful spring stationery – to encourage them.

Be blessed.

Photo by Karen Castleberry

Conversation with a Pup

Hey, little buddy. Guess what? Your friend Miss Karen is coming by today. She’s coming here to see you! And she’s going to help me with something.

You know how we’ve been painting the walls? Well, now I have to paint above the cabinets. And I have to climb up there first and take some things down so I can paint.

I know how much you like jumping up on things. But I’m a little bit nervous about doing that by myself. So I asked Miss Karen to come by and keep an eye on me and make sure I don’t fall off the ladder.

I just need a little bit of extra help.

Not that you aren’t helping me already. You’re an amazing helper! You’re doing a great job of supervising me. And I know you could help me with this too. But she’s a little bit taller than me, so it would be easier for her to catch me if I fall.

But you’re still my number one helper. And I know if she didn’t come here, you could also help me if I fall. You’re so smart you could probably even push the buttons for 911 on the phone. And bark really loudly so they’d know I was in trouble.

So I know you could help me all by yourself.

But here’s the other thing, little buddy. You’re not really responsible for helping me. You don’t need to carry that burden. That’s Jesus’ job. You don’t need to carry all that weight. You let Him do that.

Now, you’re a great watch dog and a wonderful guard dog. You do your job really well. But remember your job is to alert your family when something is wrong. And then your family needs to ask Jesus to bring help. And you need to let Jesus take care of everybody, including you.

And He will take care of me while I’m climbing the ladder today. Even though Miss Karen is tall, and she can dial 911, really Jesus is the one who has to help me. He can send lots of angels to take care of me today.

That doesn’t mean you don’t do your job really well. You’re an amazing watch dog and you’re such a good friend. But you do your job and Jesus will do His job.

He made you to be a watch dog and a friend. So you just keep being exactly who He made you to be. And you tell Him when there’s a problem. And He will take care of all of us.

I love you, buddy!

After Trauma, There Is Life

I heard a broadcast recently where young businessmen were talking about the pandemic. It’s the first time they’ve had to deal with disaster recovery and business continuity. I could hear the fear and uncertainty in their voices. I wished they were in front of me so I could give them hope that one day we will be on the other side of this and it will be okay. 

I was in their place once. I was a young business woman in NYC during 9/11. I too experienced daily fear and uncertainty in the aftermath of that tragedy. For those who lived through it, there were days, weeks, months when it felt like we’d never have peace or hope or life again. But eventually we did. And that’s what I wished I could have told those young men. It does end, and we will not be in a crisis forever. 

I’m an “old lady” now, and from my generation to the younger folks, I just want to share comfort and hope that we will get through this. Because I’ve seen it happen. I’ve been through the kind of crisis that tears your world apart, and come out on the other side to experience joy and laughter again. 

I also want to share how Jesus provides incredible healing from trauma, even right now in the midst of it, if we just ask Him.

On that note, I want to share this link to the book I wrote about how God healed me from the trauma of 9/11. Maybe you or someone you know could use some trauma healing, and this book will show you how that’s possible. It’s available on Kindle, and I’m told it’s a quick and encouraging read.

With love and prayers from an “old lady” who knows there is life on the other side of trauma. And that God never leaves us or forsakes us.

When All Is Lost: A Personal Story of 9/11 Trauma and the Healing Power of Christ by [Janet Lynn Eriksson]

When All Is Lost: A Personal Story of 9/11 Trauma and the Healing Power of Christ (Janet Lynn Eriksson)

“Can’t You See?”

Sometimes I get a glimpse of what I must look like to God.

At the beginning of March (when we could still gather), I was at a friend’s house waiting for folks to arrive for church.

Her little Yorkie started barking as he does whenever someone drives (or walks, jumps, crawls, or flies) onto the property. After all, it’s his job to stand alert and guard the premises. He also wants to be the first to meet and greet.

Doggy devotional

As our new arrival was settling her car into the driveway, the little Yorkie kept barking almost without taking a breath. He stood in front of his mama with fervent barking, as if to say, “She’s here! Can’t you see?”

Then he’d run to the door, look out, run back to his mama and bark some more.

“Can’t you see she’s here? I have to go out and see her. I have to inspect her car! So much is happening in the driveway. Why won’t you let me out? Can’t you see it?”

Doggy devotional

The longer his mama didn’t respond to let him out, the more intense he became.

She tried to explain to him: “I know you want to go out and see her. But what you don’t realize is that more people will be driving up. I can’t let you run around yet. It’s not safe.”

His barking became so loud it basically drowned out her words.

Doggy devotional

That’s when it hit me. I was looking at myself with God.

How many times have I hollered at Him: “God, there’s a problem. Why aren’t You doing anything? Why don’t You fix it? Can’t You see?” The less He seems to respond, the louder and more frequent my barking becomes. If God were trying to respond, how could I hear Him?

And might He be trying to say something like the Yorkie’s mama said to him:

”Little one, there are things you don’t realize, things you aren’t aware of. I know you want to bust through that door, and you think I’m not opening the door or that I don’t see what’s out there. What you don’t realize is I know what’s coming down the road. I’m trying to keep you safe. There will be a right time to go through the door. When the time is right, I’ll open it for you, and you can greet everyone to your heart’s content.”

Doggy devotional

Thank You, God, for the lessons You give us in everyday life that help us draw closer to You. Amen

The Lectionary Companion: An Inspirational Tool for Christian Writers

As a Christian writer, you have no shortage of inspiration available to you. Through prayer, Bible reading, worship, and enjoying God’s presence in nature or in Christian fellowship, not to mention looking at all the names of God, all the testimonies of what He has done, and all the needs lifted up to Him, you have an endless supply of topics to write about.

Sometimes the inspiration is so vast and deep, you may need help to find a simple starting point. Your first starting point should always be prayer and allowing God to lead you. Sometimes it also helps to pray over specific writing prompts.

Here is a good resource that can help you in this process: Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary (published in three volumes, A, B, and C), Paul Scott Wilson, editor.

While the book’s title may not sound very inspiring, the book gives simple yet vivid themes, imagery, and hands-on application and description for weekly groupings of Bible verses. I’ve found this book to be helpful in coming up with ideas for Christian writing.

What is the Revised Common Lectionary?

The book is a companion to the Revised Common Lectionary, which is a weekly grouping of Bible verses that follows the Christian calendar and is used as a reference by many churches. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent, the lectionary goes all the way through the Christian year. Many churches use the lectionary for their Bible readings, and many pastors write their sermons based on the lectionary scriptures.

The Revised Common Lectionary rotates every year:

Year A = 2019-2020

Year B = 2020-2021

Year C = 2021-2022

Then back to A again, and the cycle repeats.

The Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary has three volumes: Preaching Year A, B, and C. These volumes correspond to the rotation described above.

How the Lectionary Companion Can Inspire Christian Writers

These guides are not just for preachers. They provide wonderful inspiration for Christian writers too, based on a year’s worth of Bible reading and weekly themes.

As a writer, you can use the Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary to write about any of the lectionary verses. You don’t need to write seasonally or for that particular preaching year. Writers on a budget may not want to purchase all three volumes, and that’s okay. Just choose one and it will give you plenty of inspiration for your writing.

If you do decide to use the lectionary companion as a seasonal guide for a particular year (A, B, or C), it may give you an opportunity to write devotionals for your church. If your church follows the Revised Common Lectionary, as many denominations do, your devotionals would add to the biblical experience. Even if your church doesn’t follow the lectionary, you would still be inviting readers to experience the Christian calendar through scripture.

Each week, the lectionary brings together four scripture passages spanning Old and New Testament. As a writer, you can choose one passage to focus on, or prayerfully see how the passages come together and write from that convergence.

The lectionary companion can inspire your writing in many ways. You might be inspired to write on the main theme highlighted in the companion guide. Or you might pick up on one of the theological questions that arise from the readings that week, discussed in the companion guide.

The lectionary companion also gives tangible descriptions and images for pastoral and ethical issues. These can often inspire writing that applies scripture in daily life. The companion also connects the Gospel reading to the bigger biblical narrative, and that connection can also inspire your writing.

You might decide to write one piece based on the lectionary readings for one week. Or you might choose a particular week and write several pieces, perhaps a week-long devotional collection that covers 6 or 7 days and explores the week’s theme more in-depth or from many angles.

Example of Topics for Christian Writers: Second Sunday of Advent

Let’s look at an example to see how the lectionary companion might inspire Christian writing. This example will be from Preaching Year A, second Sunday of Advent (Dec 8, 2019). The readings are Isaiah 11:1-10, Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19, Romans 15:4-13, Matthew 3:1-12.

For that week, the Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary, Preaching Year A, discusses themes of justice, hope, and peace.

Here are some topics you might write about for that theme, inspired by the lectionary companion:

  • How Jesus helps those who are oppressed.
  • How does the Holy Spirit bring justice, or peace, or hope?
  • What are the characteristics of the Holy Spirit? How do you know you’re seeing Him in action?
  • Testimony of when the Holy Spirit brought you into peace or gave you hope.
  • Letter of encouragement to someone who needs the Holy Spirit to meet them in their deepest needs.
  • How does hope give us glimpses of God’s kingdom in the midst of a suffering world?
  • How is biblical hope different from worldly hope or from specific concrete outcomes?
  • Who is Jesus as the Prince of Peace?
  • What kind of Peace does Jesus bring? How does it differ from the world’s peace? What are some examples of this contrast?
  • How does Jesus lead us to befriend one another? What are some specific illustrations?
  • What limits do we put on our hope? What does it mean to expect hope beyond those human limits? Testimony of a time when your idea of hope was expanded. When you were willing to stretch your hope, how did God change your heart?
  • How do we recognize the peace of Christ?
  • How does the peace of Christ differ from earthly peace? What are some examples of this contrast?
  • How do we move deeper into the peace Jesus offers? Helpful tips. Or what kind of story might illustrate this process?
  • Where does the world tempt us with its definition of peace, leading us away from the peace of Christ?
  • What wounding in us causes us to be tempted toward the world’s peace and away from the peace of Christ?
  • How do Isaiah and Paul (in the scripture verses above) suggest we (as individuals or as a church) move deeper into justice, hope, and peace?
  • How does our church relate to people who feel like outcasts or misfits? What would Isaiah or Paul say about it?
  • What do we need to repent of to see greater justice, hope, and peace in our midst?
  • How do we renew our hope?
  • What is the hope Jesus calls us to?

Those are just a few of the topics you might be inspired to write about after reading the lectionary companion for the second Sunday of Advent. If you dig deeper in prayer, you’ll have even more ideas and/or you can drill down further into one of these topics. Each week has new scriptures, new themes, and lots of inspiration for Christian writers.

Always Begin with Prayer

As always, read the scriptures and the lectionary companion prayerfully. See what God highlights for you, what stands out to you or speaks to your heart the most. Pray about which topic to work on next. Then present that topic to the Lord and let Him inspire you for how to approach it. There are so many different ways to write about each topic. Different angles, different readers, different testimonies, different types of writing. Your way will be as unique as you are in this moment.

As you grow in your Christian writing life, you will find many sources of inspiration. The Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary is just one helpful source that I have enjoyed using. It can help you find themes, images, and tangible questions and applications from the lectionary readings. Of course, remember your Bible readings should always begin and end with prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit.

Praying the Psalms in Biblical Hebrew: Psalm 90:1

A student of my Beginning Biblical Hebrew class expressed interest in praying Bible verses in Hebrew, especially from the Psalms. I asked her to choose a few verses that she would like to pray in Hebrew. Psalm 90:1 is one of these. It is noted as the beginning verse of a prayer of Moses.

I will share the Hebrew words below (in the Hebrew alphabet along with pronunciation), as well as a little explanation from the Hebrew lexicon from Brown-Driver-Briggs (BDB). Continue reading “Praying the Psalms in Biblical Hebrew: Psalm 90:1”

Where Has God Placed You as an Intercessor?

When you are called to serve God as an intercessor, and you say “Yes” to Him, don’t be surprised where He will place you for the purposes of intercession.

Intercessors are called to affect the atmosphere around them, wherever that may be. God will allow them to see and hear circumstances and strategies for the purpose of intercession. God shows intercessors what He wants to do, where and how He wants to move. The intercessor responds by saying, “Yes, God. Come and do that.”

I’ve known intercessors who work in schools, businesses, court houses, government. I’ve known intercessors who work in the fashion industry and the finance industry and who work in hospitals or drive school buses. Some intercessors are called to travel overseas, to write books (and invite the Holy Spirit to move through their words), to drive for Uber. One intercessor I know works in an office with people from many different faiths and cultures. She carries the peace of Christ and looses His peace in her workplace every day. One intercessor I know prays from her home all day. Her husband is called to the marketplace. She is called to sit in her yard, listen to God, and pray as He leads.

As an intercessor I used to work on a church staff. Now I work in the marketplace, and I am also involved in community prayer. In the marketplace, I have the privilege to work behind the scenes to discover how God is moving in various industries. The more I listen, the more strategy I sense for how to pray.

I pray for the individuals I’m listening to, in whatever ways God leads. I pray for their families. I pray for the struggles they encounter in business. And I follow God’s strategy in praying for what He desires to do through the people He has placed in those industries. I don’t have a deep knowledge of those industries. But I know God has already placed people there, whether they know it yet or not. So I pray for God to help the intercessors and those who have a heart for Him that He has placed in those industries.

It’s a stealth mission of intercession (as many intercessory callings are). No one knows I am praying. God has placed me anonymously behind the scenes. I simply need to listen to God, hear His heart, and pray as He leads.

I need to know what I have authority to pray … and what I don’t have authority to pray. I can’t pray in ways that would violate a person’s free will or in a way that would disregard where the enemy has rights. I certainly don’t want to pray against any territorial spirit or principalities. That is in God’s hands, not mine. But I can loose the Holy Spirit all day long. And the more intentionally and closely I listen to God, the more I can pray to invite Him into each situation that comes across my desk each day.

I also walk with a group of people in daily accountability. This helps me make sure I am staying within my authority as an intercessor. It helps me keep my heart focused on God. And I have people covering me in prayer as I do what He calls me to do. If you’re an intercessor, I recommend that you also have accountability and a prayer covering. See my article Why Every Intercessor Needs a Cover for more on why intercessors need intercessors.

God wants us, as intercessors, to invite Him into the situations that surround us. He wants us to say “Yes” to whatever He desires to do. He wants us to affect our atmosphere daily, everywhere we go, by loosing the Holy Spirit and the Peace of Christ around us.

Wherever He has placed you as an intercessor in this season, bloom where you are planted. Ask Him to show you how to intercede right where you are each day. And stay close to His heart, be aware of what He is showing you. Pray as He leads. You may not see the changes right away (sometimes you will!). But you will know by faith that God is working in response to your prayers. And your time with Him each day will bless you in amazing ways.

 

Is Your Church Hurting for Money? 12 Ideas that Might Help

Many churches and ministries struggle to make ends meet. I know what it’s like for a ministry that lacks resources to pay the bills. And I’ve worked for a church as a full-time, unpaid staff member. Over the years I’ve spent time in prayer and in the Bible trying to understand how to live in this situation and how to pray. While I have no easy answers for you (Jesus never said it would be easy to follow Him), I do know that whatever we do must begin by focusing on the Holy Spirit and our relationship with God. I offer these suggestions with all humility and prayer, in the hope maybe one or more of these ideas will help you.

If your church or ministry isn’t making ends meet, prayerfully consider a few steps you can take to place the situation in God’s hands:

God's provision for the church
Photo by Kelly McCrimmon at Unsplash

(1) Tithe. Be sure you and your family are tithing. Help your congregation understand tithing by inviting someone (with a biblical understanding and strong testimony of tithing) to teach a class for your congregation.

(2) Repent for any ungodly ways or practices in your church. When doors have been opened to the enemy, that is a sure way to block God’s blessings. As a leader of your church, start the repentance with yourself and invite your church leadership and congregation to join you. Then extend this repentance to the history of your church – repent corporately and restitutionally for all ungodly ways that have characterized your church’s history. Ask God to show you where you need to repent.

(3) Consecrate the land. Through prayer (and through a knowledge of local history) you may discover that curses from ungodly practices have passed through your church’s land. It is a wonderful blessing for your community when a church offers a land consecration to God. Here is an article written by a friend and minister that will help you learn more about land consecration: Dedicating Your Home and Land to God by Kerri Johnson.

(4) Be sure your volunteer business leaders operate by spiritual principles. I’ve seen churches focus on the secular experience of business leaders to keep things running. Unfortunately, very few secular businesses are run on spiritual principles. Common strategies from the business world often don’t translate well to the church. Be sure your business advisors live every aspect of their lives by the leading of the Holy Spirit. If following the Holy Spirit in church business decisions is new to your advisors, that’s okay. Find people in your church who demonstrate maturity in living by the Holy Spirit. Invite and encourage your business advisors to work together in unity with those individuals. In this way, your business advisors can learn and grow, as they live and move and have their being in the Holy Spirit. God has blessed your church with business people not only to benefit the church, but also to grow those persons spiritually. They can take that spiritual lifestyle back into their homes, businesses, and the community. Doesn’t that sound like God?

(5) Open all business-related meetings with prayer and invite the Holy Spirit to lead you. Stop and pray throughout your meetings as you address and discuss challenges. Seek God together right there in your meetings for answers to difficult questions. Be open to what God wants to reveal to you about how to lead the business aspects of your church. Allow the intercessors in your church to pray over your leaders and your meetings on a regular basis. Listen to what God shows them and take that revelation prayerfully into consideration.

(6) Pray and fast together with leadership to seek God’s best plan for your church’s provision. Then listen and share what God shows each of you. Often He will give each one a piece of the puzzle. Bring those puzzle pieces together and see the unified vision that emerges. Unity commands a blessing. If no unity, don’t proceed.

God's provision for the church
Photo by Francesco Gallarotti at Unsplash

(7) Invite personal testimonies from your church members of the fruit of tithing in their lives. Share these testimonies publicly, including in the church newsletter and on the giving page of your website. The testimonies lift the focus off the practical and place the glory on God. That is the way to plant seeds that will lead to good fruit.

(8) Place your focus on people, not on money. If you focus on what’s important to God, i.e., people, He is going to give you what you need. Be sure your church nurtures a culture of giving to the community and to your own families, for the sake of all that God wants to do in the lives of people. As you pour out, God will refill you.

(9) Do not open the door to fear. There is a big difference between operating in financial wisdom and operating in fear. You can tell by the spirit in which you make decisions and explain things to the congregation. Consider gathering a group of spiritually well-balanced individuals whose fruit of a mature spiritual life is evident. Ask them to test the temperature of your church’s messaging and practices with regard to finances. They will be able to discern whether or not your practices are fear-based. Remember that faith cannot occupy the same space as fear.

(10) Continue to seek God for what your church is and is not called to do. Givers may experience lack because they give in areas where God did not call them. Be discerning to spend and invest specifically where God calls you to do so. Is another church in your community already doing something really well (like homeless ministry, addiction ministry, children’s after school care, etc.)? Consider sending people to their community ministry rather than spreading yourself too thin. Praying about starting a new program in the community that exceeds your budget? How about gathering several churches with the same vision and working together in unity? It takes the whole body of Christ to cover a community.

(11) Expect God to provide. If you don’t expect His provision, then change your expectations. Do some heart searching here and be honest with yourself. What do you really expect? When you are entrenched in expectations that are fueled by ungodly motivations, you can end up blocking the resources God wants to give you. The provision of God’s kingdom is not a zero-sum game. Too often churches are tempted to hold back where they should give, or to give out of desperation where they are not called to give. These are reactions led by flesh, not by the Spirit. Often these reactions come from expectations that do not line up with God’s nature and His Word. God gives good gifts to His kids. All good things come from God. If your expectations for church finances are not in line with His truth, then change your expectations. And be sure your church’s corporate practices are not harboring hidden ungodly expectations that have become part of “the way things are.”

(12) Praise God, show gratitude, and share your testimonies. Ask God to open your eyes and heart to the many ways He is already providing for your church. This may look different than your usual measurements. Respond to Him in gratitude even when you think you don’t see signs of His provision. Because He is providing for you. You just may have to realign your heart with what He is doing in your midst. Praise Him publicly and be grateful. Share the testimonies boldly and humbly as you recognize the fruit of what God is doing to grow the resources of your church. Recognize that often your resources come through the people He sends to you, and in ways you might not expect. Keep an open heart and be grateful.

Stay encouraged, pray and seek God’s best, and truly submit every aspect of your church’s business functions to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

God's provision for the church
Photo by Leonardo Baldissara at Unsplash